CLARK — The first order of business at the Clark Council Reorganization Meeting held on Tuesday included the election of council president and vice president for the new year. Councilwoman Angel Albanese was sworn in as council president and Steven M. Hund was sworn in as vice president.
“I must thank my fellow councilmembers for their support,” Ms. Albanese said as she swore to serve the community and act in its best interest. “This is what our town needs to get up and running for 2024.”
“2023 was a turbulent year, and we’ll get through it with a governing body that has worked hard to serve us. Thank you for leading us through a challenging year,” Councilman Hund said.
They thanked last year’s council for being what they described as great role models, specifically former Council President Bill Smith, and discussed their plans for the upcoming year.
“I’m looking forward to working with all of you,” Business Administrator James Ulrich said. “This year, we’re looking forward to automation, and making it a lot easier for residents to do things online.”
The council provided a brief update on the budget.
“We have sufficient cash to meet our budget and we are working on a budget that meets our financial need,” Councilman Patrick O’Connor said.
The members of the Arthur L. Johnson High School community were recognized for their efforts a couple of weeks ago when there was an evacuation.
“A couple of weeks ago, we had a school evacuation. I want to congratulate the ALJ principal, staff and children for an effective evacuation,” Mayor Sal Bonaccorso said. “Having the school authorities involved at that time, and having law enforcement from Union County-wide who came out to assist, we had so much law-enforcement assist, and the school evacuation went very well. Relax; if we panic, they panic. Panicking never helps the situation, especially when children are involved. The first thing school officials have to do is get everyone out of the building and make sure everyone is out, and the police have to make sure we get everyone to the Rec. Center, and we have everyone accounted for. Thank goodness it really wasn’t anything, but we had to go through the motions.”
Tuesday marked Mr. Bonaccorso’s first appearance at a public meeting since the state Attorney General’s Office released the findings of its multi-year investigation into the township back in November. The report, which was made public on the same day that unrelated charges of fraud and official misconduct were levied against the mayor, detailed long-standing allegations of racism, misogyny and discrimination by Mr. Bonaccorso and several high-ranking members of the township’s police department.
“Yeah, I used inappropriate language, and I apologized for it,” Mayor Bonaccorso said. “None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. I made a mistake trying to be light-hearted, if you will.”
He reminded the community of all the positive things he has done over the last 23 years.
The mayor’s appointments, without confirmation of council, included Nathaniel Clee, Mayor Bonaccorso and Mr. Ulrich to the planning board for a four-year term and one-year terms, respectively. Also appointed to the planning board were Councilman James Minniti, who will serve as Class III Member and Carmen Brocato who will serve as Alternate 1.
Councilmen Brian Toal and Frank Mazzarella were appointed to the Union County Utilities Authority Solid Waste Advisory Board for one-year terms.
Mr. Ulrich as commissioner and CFO Jennifer Kobliska as alternate were named to the Joint Insurance Fund Commissioners (JIF) for one-year terms.
The mayor’s appointments that required confirmation of the council by resolution included Antonio Iancio as municipal judge for a new, three-year term. Rounding out the municipal court appointments by the Director of Law, each for one-year terms, included Jon-Henry Barr, Esq., as Chief Municipal Prosecutor, Robert J. Pansulla, Esq., as Alternate Prosecutor, and Jared B. Weiss, Esq., as Public Defender.
Council President Albanese ended the evening by thanking the mayor for all he has done, the council for working as a team, and all the volunteers that helped those in need or in emergencies.
“Thanks to the department heads who will continue to work on tough issues which will be important this year,” Ms. Albanese said. “Our agenda was simple advocating for safety, programs for youth and senior citizens, and being fiscally responsible, and we hope to continue to accomplish these goals in 2024. You make Clark a great town to live in and a great place to raise a family. I pledge to do what’s right for our community. We’d like to hear your comments and concerns. I wish you all peace, love and happiness for 2024; happy new year.”